Saturday, September 7, 2013

They say that all good things must end someday

On one of the first nice days we had this year, the local baby hurricane ran outside and got down on the ground and kicked up her heels.

This week, Gaius Publius, Stuart Zechman, and Dave Johnson had a very useful discussion of the importance of brainstorming language, and how to promote democracy, and who the enemy is, on Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd. I highly recommend this - pass it around. Our commenter CMike says: "Wow, finally it's like someone is ready to write the essential omeM llewoP. For me, this one is the most useful Virtually Speaking --or make that hour of liberal chat-- I've ever listened to. And a special shout out to Dave Johnson, you can't play the straight man any better than that."
Homework for this one is Stuart's earlier post on The Difference Between Us and Them.

Bruce Schneier has been writing up a storm about the disaster the NSA spying program is, and these first two links are from earlier in the week, before the emergence of the latest Snowden leaks, which he calls "explosive".
in The Atlantic, "The Only Way to Restore Trust in the NSA: The public has no faith left in the intelligence community or what the president says about it. A strong, independent special prosecutor needs to clean up the mess. "
in Wired, "How Advanced Is the NSA's Cryptanalysis - And Can We Resist It?"
But now he's sent me these links:
James Ball, Julian Borger and Glenn Greenwald in the Guardian: "Revealed: how US and UK spy agencies defeat internet privacy and security"
Nicole Perlroth in the NYT: "N.S.A. Able to Foil Basic Safeguards of Privacy on Web"
Bruce in the Guardian: "The US government has betrayed the internet. We need to take it back" and
"NSA surveillance: A guide to staying secure"

Here's a nice story about some local activism that's turning energy back into a local (and more sustainable) utility, despite massive disinformation campaigns from a big energy company. It's great to see people getting out there and doing the business - and even having some victories.

"Here Are All The People Who Have Died From A Marijuana Overdose [...] Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the federal government wouldn't intervene as Colorado and Washington state implement plans for a system of legalized marijuana for adults. The decision opened the floodgates for other states to pursue similar legalization efforts and outraged police groups apparently not excited to see a shift away from the failed war on drugs." But the War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs kills more people than it saves, and Holder certainly didn't say he would be de-prioritizing it in any other way.

Dean Baker: "Scary Thought on Labor Day Weekend: Obama's Economic Team Think They Are Doing a Good Job."

Texas? "Saddam Was More Compliant With Inspectors [...] Yeah, you read that right. Nearly a half dozen Texas fertilizer plants housing ammonium nitrate, the extremely combustible substance that blew up a West, Texas fertilizer plant that claimed 15 human lives and injured over 200 others have refused to be inspected and, under Texas law, or the lack of them, they have that right. The article goes on to state that lawmakers were "intrigued" by the total lack of cooperation that saw the State Fire Marshall literally turned away at the front door by five fertilizer plant owners."

Harold Meyerson's "A Labor Day proposal for labor: Extend the Civil Rights Act's Title VII protections to workers seeking to unionize."

Dean Baker in AlJazeera, "Leisure or unemployment? It's a political question: The US is the only wealthy country in the world where workers are not guaranteed paid leave."

Digby, "They don't call it wage slavery for nothing."

There's just no excuse for the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"What's wrong with the media" - Libby Spencer likes Jake Tapper more than I do, but his own words condemn his attitude to journalism.

"This Drug Could Save Thousands Of Lives A Year, So Why Aren't We Using It? [...] Despite the effectiveness of naloxone, many states have yet to adopt measures that would remove obstacles to distributing the drug to addicts, family members and first responders. The Fix, a website that covers addiction and recovery, explained opposition to naloxone as a "moral discomfort among drug warriors who apparently feel that the wages of drug use should be death." Many of the drug's critics claim that increasing access to naloxone will only encourage increasingly dangerous drug use, though studies have not been able to confirm this hypothesis. Proponents are quick to point out that any risks associated with naloxone would be minimal compared with the alternative -- death."

"Anatomy of an Al Qaeda 'Conference Call': Dubious sources feed national-security reporter Eli Lake a fraudulent story for political purposes - once again."

"A Pastor Asks A Politician Why He Supports Gay Marriage. It Seems He Wasn't Prepared For His Reply. What do you do when you're a politician live on television and a pastor who is against marriage equality asks you why you support marriage rights for all? You take note from Australia's prime minister, Kevin Rudd, a devout Christian, and do exactly what he does in these amazing four minutes."

Matt Drudge finally works it out.

Russell Brand on Syria

The Library of Congress is Saving Pulp Fiction. (Thanks to Bob Michaelson.)

RIP: Fred Pohl, 93 - Aside from massive contributions to science fiction and fandom, he also made me learn to play bridge.

"Rochus Misch, Bodyguard of Hitler, Dies at 96 ...'I ask you,' he said in the Salon interview, 'if Hitler really did all the terrible things people now say he did, how could he have been our Führer? How is it possible?'"

This is too late for this year, but save it in case you need it in the future: How to interact with author Robert Jackson Bennett at Worldcon

London's Death Ray Building
22 Surefire Ways To Spot A London Newbie

16 Unfortunate Misuses of Punctuation

Hot Wheels wall track

Solar-powered hummingbird

Baby Elephant discovers ocean

Now, this looks like a Hollywood movie I wanna see: The Fifth Estate, with Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange. (Nice title, that should stick in some craws.) "If you want the truth, you should seek it out for yourself. That's what they're afraid of: You."

Chad & Jeremy, "A Summer Song"


  1. This one's for Gaius Publius:

    {BEGIN QUOTE} Jason Mark (in the Earth Island Journal): In a piece you wrote for the Nation in November 2011 you suggested that when it comes to climate change, there’s a dual denialism at work – conservatives deny the science while some liberals deny the political implications of the science. Why do you think that some environmentalists are resistant to grappling with climate change’s implications for the market and for economics?

    Naomi Klein: Well, I think there is a very deep denialism in the environmental movement among the Big Green groups. And to be very honest with you, I think it’s been more damaging than the right-wing denialism in terms of how much ground we’ve lost. Because it has steered us in directions that have yielded very poor results. I think if we look at the track record of Kyoto, of the UN Clean Development Mechanism, the European Union’s emissions trading scheme – we now have close to a decade that we can measure these schemes against, and it’s disastrous. Not only are emissions up, but you have no end of scams to point to, which gives fodder to the right. The right took on cap-and-trade by saying it’s going to bankrupt us, it’s handouts to corporations, and, by the way, it’s not going to work.

    And they were right on all counts. Not in the bankrupting part, but they were right that this was a massive corporate giveaway, and they were right that it wasn’t going to bring us anywhere near what scientists were saying we needed to do lower emissions. So I think it’s a really important question why the green groups have been so unwilling to follow science to its logical conclusions. I think the scientists Kevin Anderson and his colleague Alice Bows at the Tyndall Centre have been the most courageous on this because they don’t just take on the green groups, they take on their fellow scientists for the way in which neoliberal economic orthodoxy has infiltrated the scientific establishment. It’s really scary reading. Because they have been saying, for at least for a decade, that getting to the emissions reduction levels that we need to get to in the developed world is not compatible with economic growth.

    What we know is that the environmental movement had a series of dazzling victories in the late ’60s and in the ’70s where the whole legal framework for responding to pollution and to protecting wildlife came into law. It was just victory after victory after victory. And these were what came to be called “command-and-control” pieces of legislation. It was “don’t do that.” That substance is banned or tightly regulated. It was a top-down regulatory approach. And then it came to screeching halt when Reagan was elected. And he essentially waged war on the environmental movement very openly. We started to see some of the language that is common among those deniers – to equate environmentalism with Communism and so on.

    As the Cold War dwindled, environmentalism became the next target, the next Communism. Now, the movement at that stage could have responded in one of the two ways. It could have fought back and defended the values it stood for at that point, and tried to resist the steamroller that was neoliberalism in its early days. Or it could have adapted itself to this new reality, and changed itself to fit the rise of corporatist government. And it did the latter. Very consciously if you read what [Environmental Defense Fund president] Fred Krupp was saying at the time.<<<<<{END QUOTE}

    1. Thanks, CMike. I have that in queue to write up/comment on. Next up is part three of the three-part intro — Climate Crisis: The View from 10,000 Feet. (Hopefully done for next week publication).

      Klein sees things exactly right. In an earlier interview she gets that dealing with climate means dealing with every other issue she writes about; the sticking point is the same.

      Here she gets the co-option of the green groups, most of them. I've been writing about effective progressive coalitions, and in my view, it all starts with cadres of individuals, not coalitions of orgs. Orgs are, and can be, compromised by their funding.

      A question: How was your transcript of our Virtually Speaking session (me, Dave Johnson, Stuart Zechman, linked by Avedon above) produced? Feel free to email me. Avedon has the address.



  2. Link on Stuart's Difference article at the bottom to the .PDF seems to be broken.

    1. It's working for me [LINK]. Does that mean you were served promptly?

  3. This is a belated acknowledgement of the linkie love from four days ago. Thanks, Avedon. xoxo JP